Wednesday, October 29, 2008


This evening I was helping a student with her work doing subtitles for a television program. She told me that they didn't give her a full script for the show and had two pieces of paper. One had blank spots indicated by stars and the other was a script of the narration, but not all of the dialogue between the narration. I assumed that the company had sent both documents and, as we went through it, I remarked that one bit of transcribing was badly done.

Later, as we continued and I saw the two different scripts, I realized my student had done the transcribing herself. That is, I had called her work "bad". When I realized this, I wanted to cringe because I didn't mean to insult her efforts. The dialog was fast and hard to understand and I don't blame her for having issues with it. I do blame a company whose business it is to offer the scripts for not giving her a better one. My comment was essentially saying that, "if this is the type of work they get paid to do, then they did a poor job." My student isn't paid to transcribe. She's paid to do the subtitles so her work was above and beyond and I so very much didn't meant to put down her work.

My husband had a similar experience in the past. He had a student who said she'd lie to her husband if it meant she wouldn't get hassled by him. He joked that he was glad he wasn't married to her in that case. She laughed, but he hasn't taught her since then. He meant not offense, but, in retrospect, it's possible that she took the joke poorly. He doesn't cringe about it though as he's a bit more easygoing than me.

These are the types of mistakes you sometimes make accidentally as a teacher which you would like to take back, but you really can't make up for it or apologize after the fact. Doing so just makes it worse by emphasizing the gaff. I'm sure I'm not the only teacher to unintentionally mess up like this. I'm also sure this won't be the last time I do this nor that I notice every time I do it.


Girl Japan said...

Oh my.. what a blooper! Afterwards I would have tried to save my efforts and said "no worries" I am here to help you perfect this.. or something along those lines, but at the same encouraging her that the effort was AWESOME. "giggles"

Orchid64 said...

Unfortunately, I didn't realize my mistake until about 30 minutes after I made it so it was way too late for any sort of recovery. I'm hoping that she didn't hear me well enough to know. Also, she couldn't have been too off-put because she scheduled another lesson with me for this coming Saturday.

The time before last, I gave her a couple of DVDs of a British and American T.V. show (the U.S. version recently started) as a surprise. She'd been wanting to watch them, but couldn't get them. I'm hoping the favorable impression from giving her those as an unexpected gift will buy me a little understanding. ;-)

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Wally Wood said...

I had some trouble connecting one of my students in the prison where I teach. He spent the first three weeks in the back of the classroom essentially daring me to teach him anything. By the seventh (of ten) weeks, he'd become an enthusiastic and lively participant. At the end of that class, when he stayed behind to ask me something, I asked him, "So when are you getting out?"

He said, "Ummm...I'm doing life."

Ouch. I should have known better than ask the question. That's one of the things the DOC teaches volunteers. Fortunately, he remained a lively and interested student.

Emsk said...

My dad was working in LA for a two years, and while there was running for an important public post here in London (my dad started a social business and has quite a high profile here in the UK). One day a man and a woman from the UK called to say they were in town setting up a lingerie store on Melrose Avenue. They wanted to meet my dad and talk about this important post, because they were representing another man who wanted to join forces with him. They chatted for long time and all the while my dad was wondering why two people who run "knicker shops" would be so interested in this business and what they had to do with this potential business partner.

Eventually Knicker Shop Man asked my dad what he thought of Potential Business Partner. "Well," he started, "I think he's a man with good ideas and he says all the right things, but he's a bit too fond of the sound of his own voice sometimes. I think arrogant people have a tendency to think that everything they say is very important." My dad was about to add that this wasn't a criticism as such because he genuinely liked Potential Business Partner and thought they had these things in common, in fact. But before he thought of saying so he asked Knicker Shop Man how he knew Potential Business Partner.

"He's my father," said Knicker Shop Man.